In 1987, James (Jesse Eisenberg) graduated college with dreams of traveling around Europe before heading to Columbia in the fall for grad school. Then he got the news from his parents that his father had been demoted. They had no money for the trip or to help him out with school or rent in the fall. James was stuck in Pittsburgh for the summer, looking for a job that could help pay for something in New York City. He soon found out that with a degree in Comparative Literature, he wasn’t really qualified for much of anything except working at the theme park, Adventureland. They really didn’t need any kind of experience. He got the job just by showing up and saying he wanted a job. That’s where he met Bobby (Bill Hader) and Paulette (Kristen Wiig), the park owners, who are pretty funny and I wished had been used a bit more in the film.
James is introduced around the park by Joel (Martin Starr) who shows him how most of the carnival games are rigged so no one wins the big prizes. He meets Em (Kristen Stewart) who helps him out of a jam with a very angry customer that really wanted a big-ass panda bear as a prize even though he cheated to win it. Those two hit it off, even though Em is secretly sleeping with Mike (Ryan Reynolds) the married maintenance guy, who apparently picks a girl at the park to sleep with each summer, but Em doesn’t know that she just another girl for the summer.
The story is a coming-of-age story which was pretty sweet and had some enjoyable scenes. It wasn’t really groundbreaking, but it did have a bit more depth than Greg Mottola’s other movie Superbad. It might be a movie that grows on me more after time with repeat viewings, but it wouldn’t be anything that I’d recommend someone see right away.
I actually liked Kristen Stewart, which I was surprised about since she comes off as pretty standoff-ish in real life. Ryan Reynolds character could have been played as sleazy, but he seemed like a nice guy, even though he was having an affair. Jesse Eisenberg was pretty much playing the Michael Cera-character, and I think I would have rather seen Michael Cera playing it. I believe Jen said it best when she said after the movie, “We already have one Michael Cera. Do we need two?”